Health Minister Michael Hadjipantela stressed the need to secure accessibility and availability of medical devices and medicines for all member states, during a discussion on the European Health Union at the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO), in its Health Ministers configuration in Brussels.
Hadjipantela pointed out that small member states such as Cyprus face real difficulties in securing innovative medicines, and that they are often forced to buy them at a much higher price.
The Health Minister called on the Commission to take initiatives in this direction, building on its forthcoming actions to implement the pharmaceutical strategy and on the experience gained from the management of the pandemic.
Regarding the course of the pandemic, the health ministers exchanged views on the coordination of measures in the light of the emergence of the Omicron variant. Hadjipantela, in turn, stressed the need to adopt a common approach at the EU level with regard to travel restrictions but also with regard to the measures that can be taken to limit the increase in cases.
Hadjipantela also informed his counterparts about the decision of the Ministry of Health to start vaccination of children aged 5-11 years old as soon as pediatric vaccines are made available.
He also referred to the new treatments against COVID-19, noting that Cyprus has already registered to participate in securing treatments through the joint procurement process carried out by the European Commission on behalf of the member states.
The meeting also addressed the developments in relation to the establishment of the HERA, the EU’s agency for health emergencies. Health ministers exchanged views on the proposal for a regulation establishing a framework for action to ensure the supply of medical countermeasures necessary to respond to health crises at the European level.
In this context, the Health Ministers agreed on equal access to medicines and medical devices for all Member States, as was the case for vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic.
During a working lunch, ministers exchanged views on the World Health Organisation`s decision to conclude an International Negotiating Instrument to strengthen preparedness and response to pandemics.
On global future preparedness and response, Hadjipantela referred in particular to the need for the EU to focus its attention on the fight against chronic diseases through cooperation with global partners, in order to address the key predisposing factors that cause them.
Hadjipantela also had a meeting with Commissioner Kyriakidou and his Greek counterpart Thanos Plevris. The minister will fly to Madrid on Wednesday in order to participate in President Anastasiades` official visit to the country. During the visit, the Minister of Health will also hold a meeting with his Spanish counterpart.